Super Rat (Rattus norvegicus (Genetic Mutation))

A new type of “super rat” with genetic mutations that apparently makes it resistant to commonly used poisons is infesting towns and cities across Britain, a scientist warned today.

Pest experts in parts of Britain have noticed an increase in the number of rats who appear to be immune to poisons. Some had believed the resistance was caused by mother rats feeding the poison to their young and inadvertently increasing their immunity.

But researchers from the University of Huddersfield believe a genetic mutation has resulted in the rodents’ resistance. Professor Robert Smith, one of the UK’s leading experts on rats, said the mutation had been found in rats in parts of Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Swindon and Bristol.

Resistant rats had also been found in East Yorkshire – possibly a result of a different mutation to the ones in the south of England.

In the past year, local councils have been called out to deal with 700,000 infestations, compared with 650,000 the previous year, according to the National Pest Technicians Association.

In York, the number of call-outs doubled, while Exeter reported a 66% increase, and Salford saw a 40% rise.

Smith said people were turning to other means of controlling rats. He said: “I have been contacted by exterminators who really know what they are doing that have to use guns and traps. But that is not good enough if rat levels get to infestation proportions and you are trying to get the problem under control.”

Huddersfield University is to run a year-long project to attempt to discover how far the mutation has spread.

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